Junkers Ju 52/3m

As with most of the famous German aircraft of World War 2 the Ju 52 was designed long before the war and was increasingly outdated as the conflict went on, but kept in production from a lack of a proper replacement. Professor Hugo Junkers was one of the pioneers of the cantilever monoplane and the idea of an all-metal airplane, a corrugated skin being a trademark of his designs. This made the designs robust and well suited to the military environment but did pay penalties in increased drag.

In October 1930 the first Ju-52 flew and demonstrated the double wing technique of full flaps and ailerons, which gave the aircraft tremendous lift and a short take off. Only 5 Ju-52s were built as the 3m versions with 3 engines instead of the single one of the prototype proved to have much better performance. Nearly all early aircraft were civilian, driven by various BMW engines with wing engines slightly pointing outwards; it quickly became the best selling European air transport. In 1935 the Ju-52/3mg3e was adopted as a bomber/ transport with bomb bays, which could hold 3,300 lbs of bombs and two 7.92mm machine guns.  When the Spanish Civil war broke out a small number of this primitive bomber were delivered to the nationalists and helped bring over 14,000 nationalist troops from Morocco.

Troops loading a Junkers Ju 52/3m
Troops loading a
Junkers Ju 52/3m

When World War 2 started production was increased by using a factory in Hungry and later in France. Various types were produced including a floatplane, ambulance, glider tug and even a minesweeper, which used a large electrical loop to detonate magnetic mines. In total nearly 5,000 were built and made up 90% of the German airlift capability. Many campaigns such as Crete and the Eastern front would have been impossible without such a transport aircraft. A replacement the Ju 252 was designed in 1941 and could have replaced the Ju 52 but unnecessary modifications delayed production so that it did not fly until the end of 1943 and made little impact on the war.

Max speed; 270km/h (168mph)
Ceiling; 5900m (19,360ft)
Range; 1100km (684miles)
Load: 18 troops or 2000kg (4,400lbs ) cargo.

How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, T. (8 April 2006), Junkers Ju 52/3m, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_JU52

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